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King County Executive
Dow Constantine


Executive Constantine announces rapid response services to protect immigrants and refugees in King County

Summary

Executive Constantine and members of the King County Council today announced action that will provide rapid response services to protect immigrants and refugees amid rising fear. The one-time funding would establish a legal defense fund that will help residents navigate the naturalization process and support community organizations on the frontlines of immigrant rights and education.

Story

As fear grows in King County’s immigrant and refugee community, Executive Dow Constantine today announced a plan to provide rapid response services, including a legal defense fund that will help residents navigate the path to citizenship and support for community organizations on the frontlines of immigrant rights and education.

The proposed one-time $750,000 funding would also help ensure that immigrants and refugees know their rights if they are approached by a federal agent or are the victim of a hate crime. King County will also ensure that all of its key facilities are prepared to help those at risk and welcoming to all residents.

“People in our community are afraid – afraid for their human rights, their families, and their safety,” said Executive Constantine. “Our message to the White House, the country, and the rest of the world is clear: We proudly uphold the fundamental American promise that we are – and will be – a nation of hope, freedom, and opportunity for all.”

Executive Constantine on Thursday will propose an ordinance to the King County Council that would provide $750,000 for rapid response services in three categories:

  • Establish a legal defense fund that will both provide pro bono guidance through the naturalization process and help those threatened with deportation.
  • Develop and distribute Know Your Rights material and trainings throughout the county so that immigrants and refugees know what to do if they are approached by federal agents or are victims of a hate crime.
  • Strengthen information and response hubs operated by nonprofit organizations so that everyone in King County – including those who want to support immigrants and refugees – knows where to go for resources, alerts, and opportunities.

The ordinance will not cost any additional taxpayer dollars. Several departments did not spend all of the funds they received during the 2015-2016 budget cycle. 

Through its Catalyzing Community Impact Fund, Seattle Foundation has committed $125,000 to this partnership to help expand the County’s rapid response services, and the Foundation will also enlist support from other philanthropic partners. Seattle Foundation’s Catalyzing Community Impact Fund supports nonprofit partners in addressing the increased demand for services, such as information and outreach, hate crime victims support, legal services, advocacy and organizing activities across vulnerable communities.

All Are Welcome Here

Executive Constantine announced that so far 65 local elected officials have signed a pledge affirming that King County is a welcoming community for all.

King County will also ensure that all its facilities are ready, safe and equipped to assist immigrants and refugees, starting with signs in multiple languages that let everyone know that “All Are Welcome Here.”

A permanent Immigrant and Refugee Commission

The new King County Immigrant and Refugee Commission – which will act as a hub for immigrant and refugee services and align efforts by governments and nonprofits – will be staffed and operational later this year. But given the immediate need for services, Executive Constantine and the County Council will expedite funding and ramp up critical activities sooner.

The County Council approved funding for the permanent commission in the 2017-2018 budget that was proposed by Executive Constantine. A task force of community leaders recommended creating the permanent commission in a July 2016 report.

King County has been working on this strategy announced today with organizations that were part of the the Immigrant and Refugee Task Force and other organizations, including Greater Church Council of Seattle, OneAmerica, Colectivo Legal Del Pueblo, Northwest immigrant Rights Project, Somali Health Board, Para Los Niños, Eastside Refugee and Immigrant Coalition, Refugee Women’s Alliance and El Centro de la Raza.


Relevant links


Quotes

People in our community are afraid – afraid for their human rights, their families, and their safety. Our message to the White House, the country, and the rest of the world is clear: We proudly uphold the fundamental American promise that we are – and will be – a nation of hope, freedom, and opportunity for all.

Dow Constantine, King County Executive

King County is a safe, affirming and welcoming place for all residents. And it is time to back that sentiment up with real, tangible action. I am proud to be sponsoring this investment which will provide immediate support to immigrant and refugee families while building the long-term capacity and resiliency of our community organizations to continue this important work.

Joe McDermott, Chair of the King County Council

The Executive Orders issued by President Trump have created legitimate fears in individuals and communities throughout King County. No individual should live in fear of being asked to ‘show their papers’ in order to ride a bus, or access public health services.  I’m very appreciative of this initiative by Executive Constantine, and fully support his efforts to provide immediate and much-needed assistance to immigrants and refugees living in our county.

Jeanne Kohl-Welles, King County Councilmember

This partnership builds on Seattle Foundation’s longstanding relationship with King County, and our extensive history advocating for equity and opportunity. With the Greater Seattle region and the nation in the midst of change, leaders at the forefront of this work need to respond urgently to issues that disproportionately affect key populations such as immigrants, women, people of color, low-wage workers and the LGBTQ community. Our Catalyzing Community Impact Fund is a new approach to deploy resources in response to either unanticipated opportunities or challenges facing those most marginalized in our region.

Tony Mestres, President and CEO of Seattle Foundation

For more information, contact:

Chad Lewis, Executive Office, 206-263-1250


King County Executive
Dow Constantine
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